Yesterday National Review ran a great piece by Victor Davis Hanson entitled “Remodeling America.” In it he compares what is currently going on on the left side of the political spectrum to the French Revolution:
By mid 1793–4, the radical Jacobins had successfully completed their hijacking of the French Revolution.
They openly enacted agendas that might have seemed impossible in the heady days of 1787. Long gone were the pretenses of the original idealism when the revolution abolished feudalism, issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and wrestled with turning the Ancien Régime of Louis XVI into some sort of constitutional or parliamentary monarchy analogous to what had emerged in Great Britain.
Soon executing the clerisy (ed note: clergy) en masse was logically followed by Jacobins guillotining thousands of surviving aristocrats and fellow revolutionaries for supposed counterrevolutionary sympathies.
Most of the leaders of the Jacobins were themselves finally guillotined, largely because their ascendant revolutionary zeal could end only in a sort of cannibalism — given that no revolutionary could possibly meet their accelerating purist demands. Mao’s Cultural Revolution was similar, though he slaughtered millions, not thousands.
In less melodramatic terms, we are watching a rare revolutionary phase in American politics as leftists have devoured Democrats. Progressives ate liberals. And progressives are now being devoured by socialists, and soon no doubt socialists will be eaten by hard leftists, Communists, anarchists, and nihilists. In such revolutionary logic, perhaps only Antifa will emerge as pure.
That is a quite stark, but nonetheless fitting, description of what we are seeing at this moment in history. VDH goes through the piece looking at several areas of emphasis for the political left and developing his comparison. The area I found most interesting was one he describes as “The Cult of Reason:”
One hallmark of the radical French revolutionaries was a poorly disguised but predictable dislike of religion. Today it’s an aversion in particular to Catholicism and Judaism — at least if one collates the various statements of Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and Mazie Hirono, and Representatives Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Hank Johnson, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The mainstreaming of anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, television commentary by the likes of Marc Lamont Hill, and the growing anti-Israeli foreign policy of the Democratic party only add to the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hostility.
Revolutionary “scientific” socialism is historically agnostic if not atheist. Anywhere it has taken root in its multifarious forms — China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela — it seeks to destroy or corrupt religion. We have already seen attacks on Israel supporters within the Democratic party, attacks that are only thinly disguised anti-Semitic rants from the likes of Omar, Tlaib, and Linda Sarsour. One wonders how the anti-Catholicism of the Democratic Jacobins will connect with millions of new first- and second-generation Hispanic Catholic voters. Perhaps one of our young Robespierres can slightly modify the new atheist religion to “The Cult of the Supreme Being” and enjoin us all to worship an anthropomorphic Logos.
The irony of saying they are a cult of “reason” is indeed rich. It seems like anymore our political debate is anything but reasonable. It reminds more of Pee Wee Herman, than grown-ups.
The attacks on our judicial nominees are atrocious. When you know the facts, Ms. Rao’s comments may have suffered from the impudence of youth, but the woman had a decent point. The Speaker was simply childish during the SOTU.
But it is the fact that they place “reason” in opposition to religion that is truly revealing. To be reasonable in public debate is a matter of both logic and temperament. You can be educated and logical, but absent the proper temperament you will still end up being childish. Nothing can help one develop their temperament so well as religion.
Which brings to mind the email devotion I got yesterday.
But being a Christian isn’t just about what we do. It’s also about how we think.
Ephesians 4:17 reveals that Gentiles—non-Jews who are not followers of Jesus—are caught “in the futility of their thinking.” The KJV speaks of “the vanity of their mind,” whereas contemporary translations prefer “futility” (NIV, ESV, NRSV). The Greek word behind this translation is mataoites, which means “emptiness, futility, worthlessness, vanity, purposelessness.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word shows up 39 times in Ecclesiastes, beginning with the second verse, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, where mataoites is translated as “meaningless”). The Message captures the sense of mataiotes in Ephesians 4:17 by speaking of “the empty-headed, mindless crowd.”
Time and again, we are confronted with the fact that religion is not the opposite of reason, but instead is the boundaries around and therefore shaper of reason. As we see, thought untempered by faith becomes selfish and childish. – anything but reasonable.
But the good news is in the Hanson piece. Current behavior on the left is cannibalistic. We may be witnessing the nadir of the left. All of the president’s own intemperance and self-indulgent personal life, coming just after the arrogance of Obama, may prove a catalyst to their self-destruction. Religion will survive the onslaught. What matters most is that we do not let the onslaught change us – that we come out the other end looking as good as we did going in.